He is ridiculed, abused and despised by Washington’s elite, Hollywood, academics, the liberal media, and secretly by many in his own party. All of them, and even Indian libtards, predicted his rout in the 2016 US presidential elections.
Donald Trump proved them all wrong. The maverick president of America is always breaking news—in personal and public life. His foreign policy aggression is an extension of his personality. Using sarcasm, and sometimes brinkmanship wit, Trump has successfully rattled the global economic and diplomatic cages to create a new world order. From New York to New Delhi, the persuader is his favourite role.
He was at his showmanship best, riding last week’s turbulence as perhaps the only US president who played a visible role in mediating an India-Pakistan conflict. Last week, when the North Korean mission went awry, he dived into the India-Pakistan fray with an announcement at around 2 pm, “They have been going at it and we have been involved in trying to have them stop… We have been in the middle trying to help them both out... And we have some reasonably decent news... and I think it is going to end... it has been going on for a long time”. The news flashed in the Indian media for just a few minutes, but Trumpism remained un-decoded.
Meanwhile, a unique diplomatic script was playing out in New Delhi, missed by the media, which was possessed by hysterically competitive jingoism and breaking imaginary news. At around noon, Saud Mohammed Al Sati, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to India, met Prime Minister Narendra Modi. At 12.59, the PMO tweeted a picture of the two exchanging pleasantries. Significantly, while all other important heads of foreign missions were invited by the foreign secretary for a formal briefing, why did the PMO single out the Saudi diplomat for the special privilege? Only South Block knows. But connect the dots, and the picture becomes clear. An hour later, Trump’s revelation indicated that the hotlines between Washington, Jeddah and New Delhi were burning up the optic fibres. It is no secret that he shares a special bond with Saudi royalty.
Though the hit on prominent journalist Jamal Khashoggi, allegedly ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman aka MbS created global outrage, the president‘s moral indignation was brief. Soon afterwards, he ensured that outrage against the prince was contained. In the Indo-Pak standoff, it can be safely assumed that Trump would have called MbS to intervene, since the prince had approved an unprecedented investment of $20 billion on his first state visit to Islamabad, after which he and his envoy met Modi. MbS would have spoken to Imran Khan, because within less than an hour, it was peace and not war that replaced the bloodthirsty mood in the neighbourhood. Imran tried to get Modi on the phone. The Indian PM refused. Pak had Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman in its custody after he parachuted into Pak territory when his MiG was shot down in a dogfight. Faced with an unrelenting India, Imran claimed the moral high ground by announcing the pilot’s unconditional release in Pakistan’s parliament, which vanished soon after video depicting Abhinandan being coerced to make confessions was leaked.
The pressure New Delhi had mounted on Pakistan for Abhinandan’s release got a credible global response because Pakistan bombed Indian military assets though India had attacked only a terror camp. Powerful countries, including China, advised restraint and nudged Pakistan to reign in terrorism. The permanent UN Security Council members demanded a ban on JeM, whose heart of evil beats in Pakistan. This was one time Donald and the UN seemed to be on the same page. India has been the fond focus of presidential attention, while Pakistan got the cold shoulder. Soon after the Pulwama attack, in which 40 CRPF personnel died, Trump indicated that India would retaliate fiercely. On February 23, he hinted, “Right now, between Pakistan and India, there is a very, very bad situation…. “India is looking at something very strong. India just lost almost 50 people in the attack. I can understand that too.” Evidently, he was aware of the various options being considered by India to teach Pakistan a lesson.
Donald Trump is the first American president to unambiguously lambast Pakistan in public for failing to contain Islamic terror. He also expressively supports India. His poll campaign statements reflected an admiration for Hindus and hostility towards Pakistan, which portended a deviation in US policy grammar.
On October 16, 2016, he announced that “I am a big fan of Hindu. I am a big fan of India. “If I’m elected president, the Indian and Hindu community will have a true friend in the White House. That I can guarantee you.” Though he later spoofed the accents of Indian call centre workers and put the squeeze on H1B visas, the prez has walked the talk on Pakistan. Not only has the State Department massively cut financial aid to Pakistan, the US is leaning on the Pak leadership to mend its harmfully hypocritical ways. Trump boasted, “I stopped paying Pakistan the $1.3 billion that we used to pay them. Pakistan was taking very strong advantage of the United States under other presidents.... We no longer pay Pakistan billions because they would take our money and do nothing for us, Bin Laden being a prime example, Afghanistan being another. They were just one of many countries that take from the United States without giving anything in return. That’s ENDING!” The president got riled when he learned Pakistan had misused $33 billion it had received from America since 2002.
The American president’s pro-India tilt is not without strings. Since every American believes in America First, Don is not an exception. The US is concerned about the new China-Pakistan Siamese twins act. Beijing is pouring over $60 billion into the Pak economy by developing infrastructure projects like CPEC to shake up the Islamic Republic’s historical alliance with the US.
Trump’s vagaries apart, India has cultivated a pragmatic friendship with the White House, realizing its resident’s usability in taming Pakistan. Narendra Modi has a personal relationship with Trump, since they share similar substance and style. Now India is unlikely to settle with just Abhinandan’s release. It would probably persuade POTUS and the Saudi royals to arm-twist Pakistan to either hand over Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed or bring them to international justice and trial. India has defeated Pakistan thrice in the past but has not yet won the war against terror emanating from the failed state. Delhi can score a big win if it plays the Trump card judiciously. After all, the prez’s fixation with grabbing a Nobel Peace Prize and a second term is no secret. Both Modi and Trump will survive and thrive if they demolish the Empire of Terror together.
Follow him on Twitter @PrabhuChawla